I love homesteading, though, I have to admit I sometimes struggle over the term. In today’s society “homesteading” is not well understood. Historically, homesteaders moved to the wilderness and carved most of their living out of raw materials there. Life was hard! In our lifetime, “homestead” has come to mean a home, probably with some land, where a family has some roots and lives at least part of the time. Modern homesteading is different than the oldest definition, it has more to do with getting back to basics.
Though I hear the term “homesteading” used most often in relation to food production, there are other aspects of it which are not food related. Having thought about it some, here’s my definition of modern homesteading.
“Modern homesteading is a lifestyle, in which one seeks to live better, more independently, and/or frugally.”
Wikipedia’s definition of Homesteading
Here are four facets, which capture the essence of modern homesteading:
1. Homesteading has to do with healthy living and eating.
By all definitions modern homesteading is good for you. It almost always involves some exercise, a lot of de-stressing and production of some very very good food. Just the other day our family sat down to a meal and, partway through, someone exclaimed, “Hey! We produced everything on the plate!” The quality of that food was, beyond a doubt, better than normal grocery store food. The work involved in its production was fulfilling, and the activity involved in its production was good for us.
2. Modern homesteading has a lot to do with self sufficiency.
It’s always good to learn how to do something for oneself, and though there are varying degrees of self sufficiency among modern homesteaders, this is an important element in the movement. We love it when we enjoy a meal which was entirely grown and raised at home, but even an apartment dweller can learn to do more things which will cut out middlemen and extra expense as well as improve quality. If I visit someone for three days, I’m likely to start up a sourdough culture and make them some sourdough pancakes or English muffins. This is impressive, but it also tastes oh so good!
3. Modern Homesteading is all about frugality.
Mind you, some things produced in the homesteading lifestyle cost much more than if purchased from the store. This is especially true if hours of labor are factored in. Yet the skills and capacities which the homesteader masters usually do help to save money in the long run. In some cases our home food production might save us from future health issues. We know what’s in it!
Even the homesteading projects which cost a bit often contribute to a more frugal lifestyle in the long run.
Along a different line than food, I once spent well over $100 on shaving stuff (straight razors and necessary equipment to use them). It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but that was almost 20 years ago. I haven’t purchased a disposable razor cartridge or can of shaving cream for almost 20 years!
Straight razor shaving and maintenance is one of those “homesteading pursuits” that has quite a learning curve, yet I’ve found it to be extremely satisfying, even helping me to achieve new insights into honing and metal, which carry over to other cutlery.
The Straight Razor Place is a forum where one can learn about straight razors and wet shaving.
4. Modern homesteading is about preparedness.
Whether the homesteader is preparing for “the zombie apocalypse” or just the next ice storm or hurricane which shuts down the grocery store, homesteading skills are definitely great for preparedness. Knowing how to provide food, heat, water and other basics; and having both the skills and tools to do so is a huge benefit of modern homesteading. Any skill one which helps one to better take care of oneself and others qualifies for “preparedness.”